Doctors see increase in medical tourism

Doctors see increase in medical tourism

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Medical tourism is a booming industry, but buyers beware, doctors warn price shouldn’t drive your choice.

Medical procedures at a fraction of the price lure thousands of Americans across the border each year.

According to Patients Beyond Borders in 2017, an estimated 12-15 million people travel to another country for medical care.

They travel as close as Mexico and half way across the globe to Southeast Asia.

Rising health care costs in America are partly to blame.

Doctor Henry Sullivant is the Chief Medical Officer for Baptist Memorial Health Care.

"I don’t blame people for shopping around and that’s where the global health care or medical tourism world comes into play," Sullivant said.

For the past five years, he's kept close tabs on the medical tourism industry.

Cosmetic, dental, reproductive and weight loss surgeries are among the most popular.

"It’s very appealing. There are some draw backs though that are inherent in that type of purchasing of health care service," Sullivant said.

Last fall, Tamika Capone traveled to Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico for a $4,000 weight loss surgery.

Capone is down 46 pounds but she now battles a drug-resistant bacteria infection.

She is one of many Americans who have contracted pseudomonas from the same hospital, which prompted the CDC to issue a warning last month.

"The surgery here was [$17,500] I owe more now to hospital bills than I would if I had the surgery here," Capone said.

Research is key when searching for treatment outside the country where health care standards vary.

Capone admits she didn't do enough.

“The price should not be what is the driver of your choice. You’ve got to do your homework,” Capone said.

Talk to your doctor about your plans to travel out of the country for medical treatment so you can be steered in the direction of a reputable location.

To search for hospital of facilities by country that are up to American standards, click here.

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